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Russell Airport receives $82k

Published 6:34pm Thursday, March 10, 2011

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby’s office Thursday announced $81,983 in funding for T.C. Russell Field Airport.

The money comes from Federal Aviation Administration funds set aside for airport improvement and will be used as part of a project to rehabilitate the airport’s apron.

“A strong transportation infrastructure is critical to attracting new business and industries,” Shelby, R – Alabama, said in a statement. “These important grants will help the airports in the region Make necessary improvements for their safe and trustworthy operation. Such improvements are essential to ensuring that these airports remain efficient transportation hubs for those traveling to, from and through Alabama.”

The city applied for a total of $744,000 for the project and while this first appropriation will pay for engineering costs, Randy Thomas, community development coordinator, expects more money to flow in to help complete the project.

Thomas said asphalt has been degraded on the apron and the area is losing sub-grade as a result. He said rutting – where a plane’s wheels dig into the asphalt and make ruts – is occurring on the portion of the apron used for corporate jets.

“You don’t want to see it on any apron, but especially for areas with corporate hangars with larger planes,” Thomas said.

Airport manager Mike Smith said he is pleased to have the first allocation of funds for the project because he has had to tell visiting planes to avoid a portion of the parking area in order to avoid damage to aircraft.

“This will allow base customers to operate without fear of doing damage,” Smith said. “It will give more parking area to visiting planes.”

Smith said the project could start as early as June or July.

Thomas said this project, along with the new terminal, a parallel taxiway and hangar development should complete the airport’s master plan.

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